NBC Sports Group Wins MLS Rights, Including USMNT Matches

This is a rather large get for NBC and the NBC Sports Network, as they’ve won Fox Soccer’s MLS package with a rumored 3 year/$10 million per season bid. Here’s the full story:

NEW YORK – Major League Soccer (MLS) and the NBC Sports Group today announced a three-year media rights agreement, which commences at the start of the 2012 MLS season. The partnership calls for 45 MLS games and four U.S. Men’s National Team contests to be televised live across both NBC and NBC Sports Network each season. This marks the first rights deal for the newly-named cable channel that will be re-branded from VERSUS on January 2, 2012. The announcement was made today by MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber and Mark Lazarus, Chairman, NBC Sports Group.

“Everyone at the NBC Sports Group is thrilled to begin this partnership with Major League Soccer,” said Lazarus. “MLS is a perfect fit for our new group, and we are uniquely positioned to help grow soccer in the United States with extensive coverage on NBC Sports Network, significant programming on the broadcast network and our growing digital platforms. Additionally, this agreement complements the partnerships that five of our regional sports networks have with their local MLS teams.”

Each season, NBC will broadcast two regular-season MLS games, two playoff games and two appearances by the U.S. Men’s National Team, marking the first time four MLS matches will be broadcast on English-language network television since 2002. The NBC Sports Network will televise 38 regular-season games, three playoff games and two U.S. Men’s National Team matches. All telecasts on NBC and NBC Sports Network will consist of pre-game and post-game coverage. According to the agreement, the NBC Sports Group obtains digital rights across all platforms and devices for the games it televises.

“Our new partnership with the NBC Sports Group is a significant step forward for Major League Soccer and U.S. Soccer,” said MLS Commissioner and Soccer United Marketing CEO Don Garber. “The NBC Sports Group is world-renowned for its award-winning coverage, superb broadcast quality and promotional expertise. We are excited to be part of NBC’s ambitious plans for soccer, and look forward to reaching a considerable audience on multiple platforms.”

Featuring an exciting mix of players, including world-class stars such as Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Thierry Henry, MLS is one of the nation’s fastest growing sports properties. It has seen considerable growth across many metrics, including number of teams (10 clubs in 2004 to 19 in 2012) and new stadiums (two soccer stadiums in 2004 to having 15 of 19 clubs playing in venues built with soccer in mind, including new soccer stadiums in Houston and Montreal next year). This season, the League is enjoying the highest average attendance and largest number of corporate sponsors in its 16-year history.

Along with already-established MLS partnerships with five Comcast SportsNets (California, Chicago, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Philadelphia), this agreement provides the league with coverage across the NBC Sports Group’s unique four-tier portfolio of assets: broadcast network, national cable, regional sports networks and digital platforms.



About Steve Lepore
Contact me at stevemlepore@gmail.com

13 Responses to NBC Sports Group Wins MLS Rights, Including USMNT Matches

  1. Cory Bartell says:

    Fantastic news. My two favourite sports on one network without all of the ESPN fluff. Good work NBC with this, college hockey, and the NHL deal.

  2. Stephen says:

    Great job NBC Sports. But I’m still angry that ESPN will keep airing IndyCar Racing through 2018. Plus the Indianapolis 500 on ABC

  3. Stephen says:

    Forgot to add one more thing, let’s get the NFL package on VERSUS now. That way, it can be a contender against ESPN.

  4. Adam says:

    FSC did a pretty terrible job with the MLS – looks like the NBC Sports Network is quickly becoming the only sports TV channel I need.

  5. PensHoyaFaninCO says:

    Now if they could just score the Big East TV deal, i’ll never have to watch ESPN again.

  6. Cory Bartell says:

    When does the ESPN deal run out? I’d like to get the MLS playoffs on NBCSN/NBC.

    • Stephen says:

      2014. The same year is when both contracts of NBC, ESPN, and Univision expires. But I know is that MLS will renew it with NBC with a long term deal with no ESPN for sure.

  7. Bruinsfan says:

    Hopefully this dosent affect NHL coverage

    • nyrmetros says:

      It will make NHL coverage better !! NBC Sports will be a true rival to ESPN in terms of sports properties. We just need NBC Sports to become sexy like ESPN is.

  8. nyrmetros says:

    This is awesome! MLS and NHL on the same channel !! Just add some USA Rugby games and some Aussie Rules Football, combined with Indycar and I am in heaven !!

  9. nyrmetros says:

    Steve, what are your thoughts of MLS and NHL allying themselves with each other and NBC ??

    • Trent says:

      I don’t think MLS and NHL are allying themselves with each other any more than the NHL and allying themselves with Tour de France. That being said, I imagine the NHL as NBC SN grows and adds properties closer to the mainstream.

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